Rich Aucoin – ‘We’re All Dying To Live’

Review by Jeremy MacCuish

Rich Aucoin thinks BIG. We’re All Dying To Live is an ambitious statement of faith in humanity, a message directly to his listeners that they each have value.

Aucoin makes no attempt to obscure his songs with an indie haze. Instead, the sound fits more comfortably into the Soft Bulletin school of ambitious pop. The piano is often prominent, clear and bright and full. The vocals are always right at the front of the mix. It is a choice that makes sense given the sincerity of the lyrics, but still requires courage.

One way to test the worth of a melody is to play it on multiple instruments. If a vocal melody can hold its own when played on piano, it is a mark of quality. In the verse of “It,” Aucoin puts his melody out front, doubling it on piano. The test is passed with flying colours. I can only imagine that on some level, our ears have already figured out that there is musical substance to go along with the message. By the time the chorus hits – “we won’t leave it all in our heads” – those listening are proud to consider themselves part of the “we.”

Many good records are made up of climactic moments and interludes, but on We’re All Dying To Live this pattern is more explicit than usual. The anthems take modern day mantras from a whisper to a scream. The interludes (actually an intro and outro for each sandwiched song morsel!) contain some of the more sophisticated musical ping pong on the record. They could be thought to represent some of the conflict and moments of doubt in between Aucoin’s epiphanies. The winding road from one eureka to the next is navigated with patience and confidence.

The album fittingly closes with “500 People Talking,” giving the last word to the people Rich Aucoin credits with so much power, and has in return gifted with music that is empowering through and through.